This site is situated in the Metropolitan Greenbelt and located immediately adjacent to the famous Down House, for over 40 years the family home of Charles Darwin.

Clague’s scheme for seven family homes on this brownfield rural site consists of two parts.  An existing locally listed Arts & Crafts building (formerly a Royal College of Surgeons teaching & student housing block dating to 1934) was converted to a terrace of four houses with the original galleried teaching space being re-purposed as striking double height living spaces to the central pair of houses. Small storey and a half extensions were formed to the rear of the end units to increase their size. Interesting internal joinery including zoomorphic carved oak stair newels, were all repaired and retained as features in the new homes.

The four new-build homes each have a 4 kilowatt photovoltaic installation, solar thermal panels for domestic hot water and internal heat recovery systems.

The rear part of the site formerly occupied by an extensive range of derelict former research laboratories was developed in the form of three detached contemporary family homes on large gardens with a generous buffer of informal Kentish ‘shaw’ planted with deciduous tree species extending to the boundary of Down House which is managed by English Heritage. Our scheme also included the provision of a small staff car-parking area for the English Heritage staff.

The super structure comprises an advanced SIPS system with excellent thermal performance permitting clear internal spans that accentuate the generous top-lit open plan family spaces. Rainwater is recycled via 3,000 litre below ground storage tanks for grey water uses and in the large gardens during the dry spells that often occur in this part of the south-east.

Clague provided full architectural services over RIBA Stages 0-6 to our client the Kirkhouse Trust who are a registered charity and aside from financing the clean-up of the former research laboratories & the restoration of the Arts and Crafts farmhouse, the proceeds from this enabling development funded for the Kirkhouse Trust ongoing work in agricultural crop improvement in the developing world focusing on east Africa.

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